Thursday, June 08, 2023 | Dhu al-Qaadah 18, 1444 H
clear sky
36°C / 36°C

Importance of responding to people’s needs on time

No Image

Always looking at Oman and Omanis from an expatriate perspective, I must say I was surprised last week to read that more than 57,000 citizens had updated their personal data pertaining to residential land applications with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning. I thought to myself, “goodness me, that is a lot of applications to be outstanding considering the number of wide-open spaces in the Sultanate, it’s probably a mistake,” and I read on...

... to where Dr Khalfan bin Said al Shueili, the Minister of Housing and Urban Planning had called upon citizens to ‘urgently’ update their data so the ministry could “proceed with dealing with the applications according to the priority issued within the Royal Decree 42 – 2021.” Insisting that giving families an opportunity for home ownership as a priority, and the objective of the decree. It is incredible there are so many outstanding applications for building plots in Muscat and Salalah from between 2008 and 2011, and from 2008 to 2015 throughout the other governorates.

57,000 is a big number, but the unresolved figure is more likely significantly higher, which begs the question why so many applications from as far back as 2008 were outstanding, as the ministry website makes the statement that, “The plot shall be granted when and wherever (sic) it is available in each governorate or region and as per the housing schemes and priority of request.”

Although originally the right to ownership of a land plot was only for males, widowed and divorced females, the scheme was extended to include all females in 2008, regardless of their designation, so the plot ownership became a recognition of female rights. The most recent changes however indicate that the land plots will be assigned, not to individual ownership, but to (shared) family ownership, which is significant, affecting what was a previously given right to those females in 2008. The new concept also has greater potential for matrimonial property disputes and conflict in the future. A simple solution would have been for a social impact assessment to gauge the impact of joint ownership of land.

In fact, social impact reporting, and continuous updates and recognition of social change is imperative as a component of all policy change. We cannot pretend that nothing has changed in society during recent years and the role of government in an enlightened world is to respond to its people’s needs, in a timely manner. There is certainly sufficient land in the Sultanate, so plots should be allocated as soon as possible providing timely and appropriate response to societal need. They should, wrote Shaikh Al Jaami, be “provided with what benefits them when it benefits them.”

Further to that concept, these young applicants need the land when they apply, not ten or fifteen years later, but now, prior to their marriage, or starting a family. Let them build a home for their new family to grow up in. It would mean they would not be paying rent but paying off their own home. It would mean they could have their own space and grow their own personalities, their children, and their lives in the way they wish, not constrained by family, but enriching it.

Good intentions towards those who are “understanding and patient in hardship and poverty,” the true and righteous, however, that patience and understanding may well be wearing exceedingly thin in the face of bureaucracy.

arrow up
home icon